Little Apple Pride celebrates LGBTQ community with 10th annual pride festival

A pride flag featuring a Wildcat flies in the wind at the Little Apple Pride parade. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Members of the Manhattan community came together Saturday afternoon for the 10th annual Little Apple Pride festival. The event began with a parade at noon on Poyntz Avenue that kicked off the festival held in City Park.

The afternoon featured live performances by drag queens and other performers as well as booths featuring local ally businesses and organizations.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan marches along, bikers follow close behind as they show support in the Little Apple Pride parade. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

“Manhattan is a fabulous place and a bastion of joy in Kansas,” said Mary Renee, local comedian and host of the festival. “So many people came out today and we just want everyone to show love and joy, have a good time and be proud of who they are.”

Jerred McKee, Manhattan’s first openly gay city commissioner, spoke at the event.

“Manhattan has done so much in recent years to make sure we’re as inclusive as possible,” McKee said.

McKee gave a personal account about his journey in coming to terms with his sexual orientation and addressed those struggling to do the same.

“If you would’ve told me at 20 years old that I would be one of the only openly gay elected officials in the state of Kansas at the age of 26, I would’ve told you that there’s no way that would ever be possible,” McKee said.

“For anybody struggling with their identity and the fear of the world crumbling around you: you are valued and loved and there’s endless possibilities for what you will achieve in your lifetime.”

(Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Linda Morse, Manhattan city commissioner, said she’s proud of the Manhattan community and the progress that has been made in regard to the inclusion of the LGBTQ community.

“I am so pleased at the turnout and to see the big crowd that’s out here,” Morse said. “It’s more than I ever could have imagined, and I’m so thankful for this city and the community.”